Great communication is the cornerstone of any successful business, especially for shift-to-shift businesses. With so many employees and shifts constantly moving and changing, communication often falls through the cracks. This heightens the importance of excellent shift-to-shift communication.
In a study conducted by Ken Blanchard on the key traits that make or break today's leaders, respondents stated that the most critical leadership quality was communication. People want to stay up-to-date and knowledgeable about their industry, products, and company.
Based on the study, the majority of respondents stated that communication skills were the most sought-after skillset. Respondents also stated that inappropriate communication tactics were the biggest mistake a leader could make.
Communication sets expectations and drives company culture. When observing employees as they work, you should listen as much as you watch. This will help you better guide their next actions with effective communication. The fortune is in the follow-through. When you follow through on what you communicate, you are driving change, fortifying expectations, and demonstrating good leadership qualities.
In a blog from Clear Company, 86% of employees and executives cited a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the source for most workplace failures. Having a place where employees can collaborate on their tactics and tasks to accomplish their job is incredibly important, as well as having leadership that clearly communicates goals and objectives to their employees.
The problem with shift-to-shift businesses is that it is often a struggle getting all employees in one place at the same time. For leaders, managing shifts in the fast-paced workday is a balancing act that will test you. You will find out if you are an effective leader with excellent communication or a poor one that is grasping onto shift-to-shift communication by the tips of their fingertips.
But what does good communication entail? Many leaders make the mistake of believing that communication is broadcasting their message, and that's it. There are many facets of good communication that leaders fail to incorporate into their management style. Communication is a trickle-down effect. When you as a leader are effectively communicating, employees begin to follow suit.
If you have noticed problems on shifts, including confused employees, unhappy customers, or any other breakdown in your business's structure, the problem could very well be your team's communication style.
Skills that can help you become a great communicator and therefore a great leader:
Dialogue, Not Monologue
Good communication starts with having a dialogue with your employees, not a monologue. Even though you are a leader, you have to treat each interaction with employees as if you were talking to a family member or friend. If you went off on this big speech about expectations without giving friends or family an opportunity to provide input, it would be frustrating! The same goes for your employees. Make each conversation engaging and personal by allowing employees the chance to respond or object. Demonstrate that you care about their opinion to develop a meaningful relationship with everyone on shift.
Exuberant Knowledge and Be Specific
Leaders who don’t know what they are talking about immediately put employees on the defense and they will not listen to what you have to say. Just because you aren't on the frontlines like your employees, doesn't mean you shouldn't understand where they are coming from. Take that moment to understand where they're coming from and it will provide insight into their situation and may be valuable and utilized in other elements of your shift-to-shift business.
Be Open-Minded and Empathetic
If you are someone who is described as being close-minded, it may be difficult to admit, but important to overcome and change to be an open-minded leader. If you shut employees down who have different opinions, have different positions, challenge you, or confront you, this will have one of two effects. The first – they will start challenging you more on pointless items since you rejected their right to speak on the important subject. The second – they will shut down and stop communicating with you altogether. Instead of shutting them down, understand what is on their mind and where they are coming from without trying to change their opinion. If they have trouble communicating, teach them!
Leaders who exemplify empathy come off as more authentic and transparent. As Mike Myatt once stated, “Understanding this communication principle is what helps turn anger into respect and doubt into trust.”
Listen and Observe
Actually listening to your staff and observing their actions and body language will greatly improve your communication and interactions. If you keep broadcasting your message without allowing a response, it turns into a lecture. Know when to cut it down or stop talking altogether. Additionally, you should watch your staff for a while and see how they interact with each other and with you. You will learn a lot about the character of each employee and decide which way would be best to communicate with them. Effective communication isn't just what's being said, body language and how something was said is equally important.
Read Between the Lines
It is rare that employees would come right out and tell you when they are mad, frustrated, tired, or confused. However, they will absolutely give hints by what they say or their body language. Learn to read between the lines to decipher what their needs are and communicate solutions. You can learn more about what employees are hiding or how they are interacting on shift than you can by broadcasting a loud message of dos and don’ts. This can help stop a problem before it ever becomes one.
Speak to Groups as Individuals
You likely will not have time to speak with each employee individually in a communication style they best resonate with (plus it would eat up a lot of your day). But how do you get your message across when you have to broadcast it to the whole shift? It takes practice, but you can learn to work the room by tailoring your message so each employee feels like they are being spoken to individually. Speaking openly and candidly to a group is more efficient and effective than a dictatorial style.
Adapt, Adapt, Adapt
Situations in your business will change rapidly, and sticking with one kind of communication style will not work 100% of the time. Implementing different types of communication will help you become a more effective and respected leader. There is no one-size-fits-all communication strategy. You will need to adapt to every situation and determine the most effective communication strategy on the fly. A great strategy to have is to develop a backup plan for when your preferred communication style is not accepted how you thought it would be. This way you can quickly pivot and adjust, rather than fumble through and hope for the best.
As a leader, you spend most of your time in interpersonal situations, so it makes sense that you want your communication to be high quality and effective so you can experience financial success. When you consistently communicate using the skills previously mentioned, your teams will be highly focused, motivated, and productive. Collaboration between shifts will begin to increase, along with sales, quality, and the customer's overall experience, putting more back into your company's profit.
We developed a communication tool specifically for shift-to-shift businesses, like yours. ShiftForce is an online communication tool that was developed by shift managers, for shift managers. It helps improve employee communication so you can quickly and effectively relay messages to your team.
ShiftForce is an all-in-one workforce management solution that helps improve team communication, streamline your daily log activities, improve employee scheduling, all to help you run a more profitable business.
Get started with ShiftForce today so you can start running more efficient shifts!